Euro 2020 draw: Southgate relishing England v Croatia, Enrique content

Gareth Southgate is looking forward to England vs Croatia, while Luis Enrique was happy with the draw for Euro 2020 as Spain will face Sweden and Poland.

England coach Gareth Southgate (left) and Spain coach Luis Enrique expressed happiness about the Euro 2020 draw.   -  GETTY IMAGES

Gareth Southgate is relishing renewing acquaintances with Croatia after England was drawn to face the side that beat the side in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup at Euro 2020. Mario Mandzukic's extra-time winner sent Zlatko Dalic's men through to the final in Russia at the expense of the Three Lions.

England gained a measure of revenge for that loss by edging out Croatia to reach last season's Nations League Finals.

It has since progressed to Euro 2020 courtesy of a free-scoring qualifying campaign with a youthful squad, although Southgate believes any suggestions Croatia's experienced generation led by Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic is on the slide are premature.

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"I thought that maybe 12 months ago but they recovered really well in their group," he told BBC Sport after having confirmation Croatia will be England's first opponents of the competition at Wembley on June 14. We know the quality of their midfield players when they can leave [Mateo] Kovacic on the bench."

A draw in Bucharest that placed holders Portugal, Germany and world champions France in the same Group F fell favourable for England, who will also take on the Czech Republic and the winner of the play-off path featuring Scotland, Israel, Norway and Serbia in Group D.

England hammered the Czech Republic 5-0 at Wembley in qualification, with Raheem Sterling scoring a hat-trick, but they were beaten 2-1 in the return fixture.

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"We know we have to be on our game. It won’t be like the first game at Wembley, that's for sure. We're really looking forward to the experience."

 The multi-host format of Euro 2020 means major-tournament football returns to England's national stadium for the first time since Southgate and his teammates reached the semifinals of the same competition in 1996.

-'Looking on the bright side-

Luis Enrique was "looking on the bright side" after Spain was handed a good draw for the group stage at Euro 2020. Spain will face Sweden, Poland and a play-off winner in Group E, with all its games to be played at San Mames in Bilbao.

The three-time European champion avoided the 'group of death' – featuring France, Germany and Portugal – and Luis Enrique was satisfied.

"It's about always looking on the bright side," the Spain coach told reporters.

 

"If we had to face France or Portugal, finishing first or second we would have avoided them until the end, which is not bad either way. Now future planning doesn't make much sense. I'm happy for the draw and to come back to represent the Spanish national team. Now let's wait for the months to pass to arrive at the competition."

With Spain playing at home, Luis Enrique said San Mames was among Europe's best stadiums.

"The atmosphere that we are going to live there will be full of support and I hope not to disappoint, that we can do great in the group stages and win the three games."

Spain will begin its campaign against Sweden on June 15.

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